Bio-Economy-Alternative for Phosphate Fertiliser
What was the question behind this work? Bio-Economy works for circuits that are sustainable. We are still far from that, not only in industry, but also in agriculture. We use mineral fertilisers. Nitrate is generated from atmospheric nitrogen through the energy intensive Haber-Bosch Process, phosphorous minerals are extracted from mines that will be exploited in a few decades from now and often are located in politically problematic countries such as Syria or Saudi Arabia, countries, on which one should not depend on.
How did we approach the question? After our colleague Dr. Adnan Kanbar succeeded to breed in the Botanical Garden of the KIT a new variety of sorghum that thrives under our climatic conditions and is suitable for the production of bioethanol for its high sugar content (press release of the KIT), we work now for closing the circle. A joint project funded by the Division I with Prof. Stapf (Institute for Technical Chemistry, Campus North) showed that Sorghum bicolor can form, under starvation as it is typical for marginal lands, a larger root system. Moreover, it activates genes for phosphate transporters such that it accumulates phosphorous and silicate from the soil. When the residues from sugar extraction are pyrolysed at relatively low temperatures, mineralic phosphate fertilisers can be replaced. This work appeared now in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. more...
Publication 170. Kanbar A, Mirzai M, Abuslima E, Flubacher N, Eghbalian R, Eiche E, Garbev K, Bergfeldt B, Ullrich A, Leibold H, Müller M, Mokry M, Stapf D, Nick P (2021) Starve to Sustain – An Ancient Syrian Landrace of Sorghum as Tool for Phosphorous Bioeconomy? Int J Mol Biol 22, 9312 - pdf